How to Travel the Duku Highway to Laerdun Daban?

Laerdun Daban is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2,723m (8,933ft) above sea level, located in the northwestern part of China.

Laerdun Daban

Where is Laerdun Daban?

The pass, also known as Tuilan Sala Daban, links Xinyuan County (in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, administered under the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture) and Hejing County (in Xinjiang, in the northwest of Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture) of China.

Is the Duku Highway through Laerdun Daban paved?

The road to the summit is entirely paved, although some areas with frequent landslides have gravel pavement. It’s called Duku Highway, part of the G217. The road is 42.7 km (26.53 miles) long. The highway is an engineering feat and a charming route, pretty challenging, with more than 30 sharp hairpin turns. It runs through a majestic picture of clouds and mist, with the beauty of green carpet-like plateau meadows, towering lush pine forests, stunning mountains, and infinitely beautiful scenery. In terms of speed limits and road conditions, the road has a speed limit of 40 km/h.

Is the Duku Highway to Laerdun Daban open?

Set high in the Tian Shan mountains, the Duku Highway is open from June to the end of September each year due to snow. However, peak traffic and potential jams are observed during July and August, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. As a high-altitude winding mountain road, landslides and rockfalls are common. Traffic control is implemented during adverse weather conditions (rainy days, snowy days, foggy days, landslides, rockfalls, etc.). The speed limit is 40 for the entire route and 30 for curves.
Regarding the timeframe, the Duku Highway has specific entry hours. Except for the section from Nalati to Bayinbuluke (Laerdun Daban), which has no time limit, the entire route is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nighttime restrictions are in place, prohibiting entry into the mountainous area from 21:00 to 9:00 am. Notably, the Duku Highway operates under military jurisdiction, prohibiting foreigners and individuals from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan from passing through.

Vehicle Restrictions on the Duku Highway:

The Duku Highway imposes certain restrictions for a safe journey. Firstly, the entire highway is accessible to vehicles with seven seats or less. However, trailers are not allowed, and the height limit for RVs is 4.5 meters. Additionally, only non-commercial vehicles with less than seven seats can pass, and RVs can pass within a 6-meter limit. Regular traffic police inspections are conducted on the road, strictly prohibiting vehicles with more than seven seats and freight vehicles.

How to Prepare for Travel on the Duku Highway?

Refueling and supplies are critical considerations as well. There are no service stations on the winding mountain road, so it's essential to refuel at gas stations before entering the mountains. Major refueling points are situated in Nalati Town and Bayinbuluke Town. Be prepared for potential delays at Qiaoerma gas station due to a large number of people and vehicles. Lastly, travel supplies are scarce on the winding mountain road. Make necessary preparations in advance, considering there are no stores, hospitals, or car repair shops along the route. Facilities in Qolma and Bayinbuluke Town are limited, while Nalati, approximately 70 kilometers away from Xinyuan (the county seat), offers more comprehensive facilities. These guidelines ensure a safe and enjoyable journey on the Duku Highway.

Road suggested by: jorge manuel gómez sánchez
Pic: 程亮